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Meditation Increases Attention - A Brain Scan Report

changes does suggest that the changes were caused by meditation.

"If it were simply lifestyle, we would not expect a very strong correlation with hours of practice," Davidson says.

Other evidence for the neurological benefits of meditation came from a study Davidson reported in May, which showed that three months of meditation training improved the ability to detect a brief visual signal that most people cannot detect. "That was a more definitive kind of evidence, because we were able to track the same people over time," he says.

Psychologists have long considered an adult's capacity to pay attention as relatively fixed, but Davidson says: "Attention can be trained, and in a way that is not fundamentally different than how physical exercise changes the body."

The attention circuits affected by meditation are also involved in attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, which Davidson describes as the most prevalent psychiatric diagnosis among children in our country.

"Our findings suggest that it may-I stress may-be possible to train attention in children with methods derived from these practices," he says.

Davidson says scientific studies of meditation are proving traditional beliefs about the mental benefits of meditation. Yet although meditation is often associated with monks living a life of simplicity, poverty, and prayer, "There is nothing fundamentally mysterious about these practices; they can be understood in hard-nosed western scientific terms."

And, he adds, a growing body of "hard-nosed neuroscience research" is attracting attention to the profound effects of meditation.

"This deserves serious scientific attention," he says. "It also explains why people spend time sitting on the meditation cushion, because of the effects on day-to-day life."

Davidson compares mental practice to physical exercise. "We all
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